Climate change is one of the most important issues in our present and future lives. It is concerned that the global and regional climate change will negatively affect plant growth, including crop production, not only in Japan but also in other major agrarian regions of the world. Furthermore, conventional agricultural activities cause high levels of energy consumption. We, thus, must shift our farming methods from the conventional ones to alternatives.
In response to the concern mentioned above, plant scientists and engineers are required to conduct R & D to create environmentally adapted crops by applying the latest findings. Specifically, a cutting-edge research target is the integration of various levels of information, from genotype to phenotype, within a plant in order to understand its response to the environment in the field. Although such R & D is mainly conducted by enterprises and research institutions in the US, Europe and Australia, Japan also has the potential to tackle the issue by using our knowledge of basic plant science and engineering technology.
Therefore, CRDS proposed the R & D Initiative“ Technology for Genomic Design of Environmentally Adapted Crops”, which is intended to strengthen the implicit function of plants. The genomic design technology is an advanced technology that correlates the molecular information of a plant genome with phenotypic output of the plant responding to the environment of the field. In this initiative, the following three complementary research issues were proposed.
1.Integrated quantitative analysis of the mechanism of the plant
s response to the field environment
2.Modeling of the mechanism of the plant
s response in the field environment
3.Design, synthesis and transduction of gene clusters and its evaluation
Here, we mainly focused on two characteristics of the plants:stress tolerance and resource use efficiency. These targets are more challenging compared with those that were focused on in the traditional genetic modification. Furthermore, we emphasize the importance of forming a feedback loop of the scientific knowledge, information and technology among R & D groups handling the three research issues mentioned above.
The consideration of social acceptance is also an important issue in developing the technology and promoting it in society. Therefore, solicitous assessment of the technology concerning its influence on the natural environment and human society should be performed, and the transparency of the research should also be secured.
As a consequence, a societal effect on establishing“ Sustainable Agriculture” with low resource and energy consumption is expected to be realized on the basis of the technology we propose.